God Without Context

Jul 2, 2023

“For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art GOD ALONE.” (Psalm 86:10 KJV)

con·text (‘kän-,tekst): “the circumstances that form the setting for a statement or idea, by which it can be fully understood and assessed; the parts that immediately precede or follow a word or passage and help to clarify its meaning.”

Information is shared through words. The full meaning and intent of a sentence or paragraph is not just the sum total of the words and their definitions. More importantly, it must also include consideration of the setting surrounding the text—or the context. In fact, we can often guess the definition of an unfamiliar word just by looking at its use in context. Likewise, words taken out of context may convey a meaning significantly different than what was originally intended by the speaker or author. It is said that the three most important things to consider in order to accurately interpret a Scripture text are … “context, context, context.”

Now, consider this word—SELAH. It is a word in Scripture that stands alone. It’s a complete idea all by itself—a one-word imperative. Its surrounding context has no impact on it as it doesn’t depend on any other words to clarify its meaning. The word is repeated many times in the Psalms and is widely thought to mean, “stop for an interlude” or “pause here and meditate.” But, although it is assumed to be a musical notation, its actual meaning remains uncertain.

Consider a similar word: HIGGAION. Like SELAH, it stands alone. A complete thought, without context. But, unlike SELAH, which is mentioned 74 times in the King James Version—HIGGAION is only mentioned (untranslated) ONCE—in Psalm 9:16.

“The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.” (Psalm 9:16 KJV)

Here’s a word that is evidently placed there to be read and understood, but whose meaning is locked—obscured by its own completeness. The surrounding verbiage does not even hint at the meaning of HIGGAION. Like SELAH, it is assumed to be a musical term, but that assumption cannot be confirmed. Each word—SELAH and HIGGAION—remains a mystery … and stands ALONE.

“In the beginning was the WORD …”
(John 1:1 KJV)

GOD has always stood ALONE. “There is none beside me. I am the LORD.” (Isaiah 45:6 KJV) He has existed in solitary GLORY—His power and presence unobserved—His essence an inscrutable mystery. Somewhat like the word HIGGAION. “The world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” To the world, GOD was incomprehensible as “HIGGAION.”

Until … “the WORD became FLESH.” The indescribable and incomparable WORD suddenly translated ITSELF into humanity, in the context of Bethlehem.

“In the beginning …” GOD began to reveal Himself to His creation. From the Garden of Eden onward, the glory of God was declared to Man through nature. God then initiated conversations with Adam and Eve, He instructed Noah to build an ark, He made promises to Abraham, and He spoke to Moses from a burning bush. Through the centuries, more and more information was passed from GOD to Man—first orally, then in written form—but, the visual IMAGE of GOD remained, at best, blurred.

Until one night, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman” … and “the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us.” From that moment when the Light broke through, the invisible became visible with glaring brilliance, and the IMAGE of GOD was revealed.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them.” (Isaiah 9:2 GNT)

When GOD became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, a new understanding burst on our sight! GOD provided His own context and was now one of us. By His amazing grace, He allowed us to know Him and identify with Him, in CONTEXT:
through FAITH (Phil. 3:8-10),
through His BLOOD (Eph. 2:12-14),
through His WORD (James 1:18,21),
through His NAME (John 20:31), and
through His SPIRIT (John 14:17, 16:13).

GOD is not revealed by what Man has to say about Him, but by His own Will, in His own Word. In Ezekiel, it is said at least 63 times: “… (they) shall KNOW that I AM the LORD.” From before the foundation of the world, GOD graciously intended for us to KNOW Him—in real time—in context!